Completely overwhelmed!

I first went to WDW about 25 years ago when I was about 25. (You do the math!) I was incredibly excited – it had been a childhood dream. Since then I’ve been to Disneyland in California twice, Disneyland Paris more times than I can remember, and Disneyland in Hong Kong once. I’ve also been to Universal Studios in Hollywood twice.

An unexpected opportunity to stay in Florida – at a friend’s house 20 mins drive from WDW – was offered to me last week and I grabbed it with both hands. I booked a great flight from the UK and I’ll be spending 5½ days in Orlando during the second half of August.

I’m an obsessional planner, in part driven by a fear of “missing out”. Sites like this feed this. I’ve been trying to create the perfect visit. Initially I was going to limit myself to the four WDW parks, but then I read about Harry Potter at US and IOA, so that had to be squeezed in, too.

I decided that MK was lowest priority – despite the emotional appeal, there’s nothing that’s really new to me. I’d like to do the Mountain rides and see the parades, but that’s it. So I’ve pencilled that in for the ½ day – the day I arrive in Orlando.

I’ve never been to Epcot or AK, and I’m really excited about them – especially the new Pandora attraction – so they’re allocated one full day each. Naturally I’m promising myself I’ll arrive before rope-drop each time.

I’ve allocated US and IOA one day each, and plan on getting a park-hopper ticket so I can ride the Hogwart’s Express. I’m thinking about buying an Express ticket for at least one of these days.

That leaves DHS. I’ve been there before and “the Book”, as I call it (the Unofficial Guide) downplays it a lot because of the sections that have been shut down while new attractions are being built. Nonetheless, I’ve allocated it one day.

I’m neutral about the water parks. I could go. I could not.

I thought about going to Cirque du Soleil, but that started to bring the cost to a ridiculous level and I couldn’t see how I’d fit it in.

I have contradictory aims for this holiday. On the one hand – I know this sounds dumb – I want to have a relaxing time. On the other hand, I really want to make sure I tick off the A-list items. I’m trying to figure out which these are. For example, in MK, as I said, I’m all about the Mountains – I don’t care about Pirates or Small World. In US and IOA I’m mostly about Harry Potter.

I know it’s going to be really hot and humid and there may be storms or worse. I don’t know how I’ll handle that. I’ve thought about taking afternoons off – either exploring monorail hotels or even going back to the house I’m staying in. (I’ll be hiring a car.)

Does any of this sound reasonable or make sense? Can anyone identify with it? Can you have a “leisurely” time at WDW and US in the third week of August, yet still get to do the really big stuff?

Does a successful WDW trip require massive advance planning? Reading “the Book” makes it seem like it really does. It’s kinda stressing me out. I know, first world problem!

1 Like

Have you considered a park hopper so you can do ‘the mountains’, including 7DMT?

Thanks for replying!

Yes, I’m going to get a park hopper – but aren’t all the Mountains at MK? (I’m talking about Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, etc.)

Is 7DMT worth it?

Your plan sounds adventurous, but not particularly restful…:grinning:
Based on your preferences, it sounds doable…but I wonder about one part. If you’re only interested in the Harry Potter parts of Universal, I wonder if you could save a day and do a one-day park-hopper…
If you’re a mountain fan in MK, I’m not sure 7DMT is worth it to you…on the one hand it would be new to you and it is very well done…but on the other hand, its pretty tame…so a toss-up.
And you can probably do HS in a half day, unless you’re interested in the stage-shows…
Sounds like you’ll have a great time however you work it out…


I was going to say the same thing about Universal. You can do all the HP stuff in one day plus a few extras, especially if traveling alone. I would do that and spend the extra day at Epcot or AK. I think that alone will relax it a bit more. Id try and work in some lunch table service meals so you can have a “break” without sacrificing the time. Maybe consider bringing some snacks to hold you over and eating at TS around 2 when it’s hottest outside. I would save park hopping until your last day or so, that way you can revisit favorites or as a strategy for HS. You can do all of HS in the morning and save your FP for the next park you hop to. If you paid for express transportation you’d save even more time that way. No matter what, I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time!


Thanks again for your replies!

I’m actually going with a friend. So far as rides are concerned, I like fast exciting ones, which means I’m interested in more that just Harry Potter at Universal, though Harry Potter is my No. 1 priority there.

My friend is more interested in shows. I’m up for those, too. But we’ve agreed we don’t necessarily need to do absolutely everything together.

I also have a sentimental side. I saw a photo on here of a little girl being hugged by Joy and Sadness from Inside Out and I started tearing up . . . so I’m not just an adrenaline junkie!

Equally I’m interested in visual spectacle – hence Harry Potter and Pandora, etc.

I’ve 97 days to go, lol. I guess this is all part of the experience!

Oh . . . question: I’m not particularly bothered about fancy meals or meeting characters while dining – do I really need to make reservations? I’m a wings and shakes kind of a guy. And I’m happy to snack on whatever’s being offered from carts as we wander round. That being said, I thought it might be smart to dine at a monorail hotel as part of an afternoon break.


You have a park hopper! Yay! The reason I say that is that I love HS! Some of my favorite attractions are there but I will spend a morning there and then a night at another park. Then some night I will return to HS and jump to Epcot to see illumiNations or another park or MK for a couple of hours. Have you considered that?


All the parks and the monorail resorts (add Wilderness Lodge) have great counter service options. If you are looking for a good meal in a cool restaurant the resorts most likely would have the best food choices.


Yes, most of the mountains are at MK, but since you said you might skip MK, I was suggesting a park hopper so you could get in the mountains and move on to another park. Don’t forget about Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom. That’s technically a mountain, too.

As for 7DMT, my DH gets scared on that, but loves Thunder Mountain, so I think it’s all in what you like. I really enjoy 7DMT and wish the lines were smaller. It gives me that little thrill, just like the other mountains.

Oh yes, Test Track may not be a mountain, but it’s got some thrill to it, too.

1 Like

I’m not as young as you, and last July I surprised myself at how much fun I had meeting characters. If you want to do that, go for it! I especially recommend the talking Mickey on Main Street at MK (it uses FPP). Characters are amazing at how well they portray their personality and interact. I’m not one to take breaks away from the park in the afternoon, mainly because it uses up so much time just to travel. Afternoons are a great place to spend time in air conditioned shows or less popular attractions as a way to rest and get out of heat or rain. I agree with eating a later lunch for these same reasons.

1 Like

You will have a great trip including all those on your wish list if you ‘do it your way’. Someone once said on here (get the touring plan App for chat questions) that when you are done having fun that day/tired just stop. Go take a break. We go back to our hotel take a long break, then go back to the parks for the fireworks and counter service chicken tenders! Disney lends itself so well to enjoying yourself your way. Avoiding the crowds by familiarising yourself with a map app, using an optimised touring plan from this site as a guide for your day, adjusting it to how you feel and getting best use of Fast pass (use for rides, you can get in the shows easily enough) you will have a truly wonderful time. Be excited!

1 Like

Given what you may to do you can mange everything you need. You just need to start with the big chunks and then work down from there - you already have one day for AK and one day for Epcot. If you can afford a one day two park ticket for Universal, together with the express pass you can do both Universal parks (with plenty of time in Potter and all the adrenaline rides) on one day. I would then do half day DHS and half day MK (on diff days). This gives you some time to relax and some options if you decide to change plans. After setting the days, then look at must do rides and characters/parades and shows. Maybe limit to one parade or show per day. Also, choose if you want night time fireworks - they are good, but you don’t need to see them all. If you just take it step by step I am sure you will be fine

1 Like

I think you’re going to be totally fine, and you are starting it off correctly,
Hoppers will be your friend, rope drop will be your other friend.

I’d start with figuring out EXACTLY which attractions you’d like to do in each park. If you are not travelling with kids, you have a decent advantage for sticking to a plan.

FWIW, from what you’ve said about thrill rides and shows, here are some quick thoughts for you:

Skip 7dwarves mine train. It’s a smooth kiddie coaster with really great theming. It’s not a thrill ride. The photopass video they create for you is awesome too, but it’s not a thrill ride. It’s not worth waiting in line for, and it’s not worth a fastpass for a THRILL ride. For the theming, it’s nice. For a thrill ride, not so much.

Hollywood Studios - Tower Of Terror, and Star Tours absolutely ROCK. I’d plan on trying to do each of them twice. Not sure if you’ve done ToT at DL? If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ll have a decent time at Hollywood, and also, Toy Story Mania is a really fun ride.

Soarin is awesome, Test Track is decent, Mission Space - ho-hum. I’d like test track a lot more if you could do a few more laps outside after suffering through the herky-jerky parts inside, but that one lap outside is a pretty decent rush. The street shows at Epcot - Jammitors, Acrobats - anything else that sounds of interest to you - I’d really try to schedule them in as “downtime.”

AK - Lion King show - don’t miss it. Everest roller coaster was decent. The views on that one are really cool. Rumor is the new Flights of Passage pandora ride is flippin awesome. If I was seeking thrills at AK, and I had a decent zoo at home, I’d skip the safari, khali river rapids, and Primevil Whirl, although if Primevil Whirl had a wait time of around 10 minutes, I’d hop in line. I’d target Flights Of Passage, Everest, and Dinosaur, and also Festival Of the Lion king.

So, I’m not saying “only do those things in those parks.” I’m saying that if you are in it for thrill rides, then I’d start with these, and think about skipping the few I’ve listed - not worth the time they take for the payoff, imo.

I think you’ll be fine - you’ll probably do much better than you think, but I really suggest you figure out exactly what you want to do before you go, and not be wandering around with a map when you get there. This site is awesome for making a plan for your attack. Especially in August!!! I’d want to have everything mapped out for me, so I can just enjoy with minimal thinking about what to do, or where to go next. Walk right by all those people trying to situate themselves on a crumpled up map trying to figure out where the Jungle Cruise is after they get off of The Barnstormer. You’ll be fine. Figure out what you want to do, then figure out the logistics of which parks on what days, then figure out your walking routes, and you’ll be absolutely fine. If you have too much to get done, then you have to prioritize.

Also - don’t wear yourself out and become miserable.


I agree with the poster that recommended 1 day at Universal with the park hopper. If the HP stuff is your main interest, you should be able to do it in one day easily. If you love roller coasters, maybe not. We were able to get in most of the rides and the Hogwarts Express in one day, and then the second day re-rode some of them and visited the other attractions.

I’m 70 and went to Disney World and Universal last October. I was done with the Universal parks way before my daughter (40) and granddaughter (8) were. DD loves the big coaster (Hulk, Dragon Challenge) and they are a bit intense for me. I loved the Rockin’ Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios, but it is in the dark so you don’t realize how far off the ground you are.

Have a great time. It sounds like you have a plan.


Like you, I’ve been to Disneyland Paris at least 13 times so I will give you a little perspective from that point of view. MK and HS are basically the same layout so you will feel right at home. MK is way better in WDW and HS is way better in DLP. If you arrive at HS at RD and use fast passes for the rides you want, you will easily be finished in that park by 1pm. Even though it’s not a thrill ride, you should make sure to go on Toy Story Mania. There is nothing like it in DLP even though their HS has infinitely more rides than WDW’s HS. (Crush’s Coaster and Toy Story Land are so fun!)
Since you’re done early that day, I would use that extra time to make a second trip to Epcot. From HS you can walk or take a boat ride to Epcot. You can even stop at Boardwalk on the way! The boat ride is relaxing. You will be entering Epcot from the back side. There is a FP kiosk to the left of that entrance where you can see what is available for the afternoon. (We love to enter Epcot from that side but please don’t make that be your first time visiting that park. You need to see it from the front the first time you go!) After you enter, you will be right by France giving you a great chance to eat your way through the countries. The rest of your day is up to you! You could make your way to the front of Epcot, hop on the monorail and have dinner at one of the MK hotels. Have fun!


Ugh I wish they would bring Crush’s Coaster to Orlando!! I also think Disneyland Paris would be the perfect first Disney experience for anyone. So manageable and not at all overwhelming. Loved it when I went!

1 Like

If all you want to do in MK is the MK mountains and a parade, I like your idea of scheduling them for the half-day when you arrive. However – and I can’t stress this enough – try to get FastPasses for all three (Thunder, Splash, Space), and then you can watch a parade and be done in 1/2 day.

If you can swing that, I’m not sure you’d need a park hopper, per se. Schedule your HS day in the middle somewhere and take a break that afternoon to relax once you’re done with what you want to see there. AK and EC are probably doable in a day each, although with Pandora that might be pushing it.



I would like to jump in and add that if you are REALLY a neurotic Harry Potter fan (as I am), you may want to keep your two days at Universal if you want to see anything else. Can you do all HP and some other stuff in one day? Yes. Can you take in all the glorious details, shows, butterbeer, hidden gems AND do other things in one day? Likely not. My sister and I spent 6 hours in Diagon Alley alone on our last trip, casting spells, watching shows, taking it all in. I can do an entire day of only Harry Potter, which would leave me with no time to do anything else. If you want to completely absorb it and get lost in the theming, I would keep the two days. If you just want to hit the highlights, then you can probably cut your trip to UOR down to one day.

1 Like

I just wanted to thank everyone for taking the time to make such thoughtful and helpful suggestions.

As you may have read on another thread I started, I’ve umm-ed and ahh-ed about what to do before finally (?) returning to this initial plan.

Having scoured crowd calendars, and thought about my own priorities, I’m proposing

Day 1 MK (½ day – three mountains and some fireworks if they’re on?)
Day 2 AK (full day, with an option to finish up on Day 6)
Day 3 Epcot (full day, with an option to finish up on Day 6)
Day 4 USF/IOA (Harry Potter)
Day 5 USF/IOA (Other)
Day 6 AK or Epcot in the morning, DHS in the afternoon finishing the holiday with Fantasmic and Star Wars

My “only” worry now is: what if the weather’s a disaster and I lose a day or more?!

No-one told me booking Disney holidays is so stressful!

1 Like